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You are Here: Home News Accessible carriage launched for Riverside steam railway
22 November 2017
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Accessible carriage launched for Riverside steam railway PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 24 October 2017 08:15

wheelchair in new carA new accessible carriage was launched at the miniature steam railway at Riverside Park at the weekend (Oct 22), offering wheelchair access to train rides for the first time.

 

wheelchair in new car

accessible car ramp down

The Southampton Society of Model Engineers, which runs the railway, launched the new special needs car at their final run of the year on Sunday (Oct 22).

As the ramp was lowered ready for its first passengers, the mayor and mayoress of Southampton were on hand to officially ‘launch’ the new car – and of course take an inaugural spin around the tracks.

mayor taking new car for spin
Mayor Cllr Les Harris in the new carriage

The new carriage can be used by wheelchair users on the lower track, and also includes a bench so families can use it, with buggies if need be.

david goyder and mayor les harris

Club chair David Goyder, above left with mayor Cllr Les Harris, said: “If someone comes along with a baby that’s asleep, and they want to have a ride, they can jump in and we’ll take the buggy as well.”

But he said the car’s main purpose is to allow wheelchair users and disabled people to go for a ride and have some fun.

Talking about one of the children in wheelchairs who were trying it out, he said: “He’s absolutely thrilled to bits. He can do something that he couldn’t do before.”

He said the idea originally came about following a visit to a similar railway.

“About five years ago I went to the Swindon track to say hello, and they had one of these wheelchair cars. And I just said ‘Wow. We’ve now discovered the answer’. So it took quite a while to get it ‘into our culture’, but we’ve worked very hard this year to create the facilities to make it possible.”

trolley storage tunnel

The new ‘tunnel’, above, which been under construction this year at the railway, now stores the trolleys that run on the raised track, creating enough space elsewhere for the new accessible carriage to now be stored safely.

The new car has been financed by a lottery grant of around £6,500, while the material for the trolley tunnel was financed by the club, whose members also put in “a lot of hard work to make it happen”.

• Although it was technically the last Sunday afternoon train run of the season, trains will be on the tracks (weather allowing) in two weeks’ time, on November 5, from 11am-3pm on the ‘poppy run’ raising funds for the Royal British Legion.

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